T for Tom

Day 4 – Another Side of Bob Dylan – 1964

Posted in A Dylan A Day by johnsontoms on June 25, 2016

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Another Side of Bob Dylan may be only a part of the artist, but it is all apology. Over a year removed from recording his last non-original song, Dylan could now tell a story in full. That story is the beginning of a disconnection from the public. He saw it coming and took his last sane breath to apologize in album form.

From the outset, “All I Really Want To Do” starts the confession – “I ain’t looking to fight with you / frighten you or tighten you / drag you or drain you down / all I really want to do is, baby, be friends with you.”

It’s in part an apology for being previously misunderstood (and possibly and excuse to himself for failing to provoke political change), but its part a greeting as well. This record is overall sweeter, more delicate, more interior – it feels like Dylan is for the first time speaking from directly from his heart and directly from his mind. These well-springs of honesty were not without their inspirations.

After touring The Times The Are a-Changing, Dylan led a 20-day road trip across America, and at some point took his first dose of LSD. He then nearly immediately flew to Europe for tour, but finished by recording this album, which he tracked most of in Greece while staying with Nico and her child.

This flurry manifests at the opening of the album’s second side. “Motorpsycho Nitemare” is the psychedelic call to arms the 60s was waiting for – a sweating, hysterically mad story of Dylan shape-shifting through a city akin to a Seuss creation. I instantly recognize it as the first appearance of his sing-song rapping that would become iconic on 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home in the form of “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” (both of which are a personal favorite and something I can’t wait to explore next). It would be copied again and again throughout his career, and I’m seeing now for the first time how Another Side is the jumping off point.

No wonder then that the record closes as it opens. If you didn’t hear him apologize at the beginning when he said who he was and you’ve become confused by where he’s going, don’t look back for him to return. For that, he signs off “it ain’t me, babe, you’re looking for.”


Song: Black Crow Blues

I’ve been listening to Dylan for half of my life, but never before this project have I been so shocked by a piano. After three days of acoustic guitar, this song is a like a gong in Dylan’s pocket, the first time he used something besides his guitar and harmonica. I’d never heard it before, and while it becomes the same lyrical melody he uses next on Bringing It for “On The Road Again,” it’s use here is intrepid and fearless, and sets the tone for a record of a different kind.

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